Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving

What a wonderful week we have had! Yes, it was crazy and busy, but that just makes it fun!! We really kicked the week off on Tuesday when my brother came in from Atlanta. His birthday was the 20th so we all went to dinner to celebrate him turning 25! On Wednesday I woke up totally stressed--it was Thanksgiving cooking day! I don't know why I was in such a snit about it-I was only cooking 2 things! PLUS-perhaps the greatest part of the week-I had finally relented and hired my mom's housekeeper to come to our house for the first time that day. We never seem to have time to give the house a good deep cleaning and when we do have time we absolutely HATE doing it. It makes me so cranky! I know I should probably just suck it up, but after seeing what an amazing job Nidia did, I am too spoiled to go back! When I got home from work the house was immaculate! It really made my stress level decrease that day, just knowing that cleaning was NOT something that I was going to have to do! Forrest was out playing football in "Turkey Bowl 2010" with my brother and some of their high school pals while I was at home cooking my first Thanksgiving dishes. Last year I brought canned cranberry sauce and Sister Schubert rolls. Low pressure, right? Now that I have a little more cooking under my belt I volunteered to make something and I was determined to do a GREAT job. Everyone it seems has their "signature dish" that they bring to our holiday gatherings so I really wanted to find one for me! I agonized about my decision, and finally selected Alfredo Rice Casserole (everyone else had their own dishes planned so I had to pick something that wasn't close to being the same). I found the recipe a few months ago in the Southern Living Holiday Cookbook and have been anxious to have the right occasion to make it. I think it turned out very well!!
Alfredo Rice Casserole--looks yum!

Alfredo Rice Casserole: (I doubled the recipe)
1 1/3 cups refigerated Alfredo sauce (I ended up using a jar and a half, but wish I used both whole jars)
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 cup marinated quartered artichoke hearts, chopped (I just used 1 whole can for the doubled recipe)
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (I used bacon bits--easy!)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (the recipe says "not packed in oil" but they don't sell those in Gadsden so I just rinced mine off and they were fine)
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp pepper
(I also added 1 small can of pieces and stems mushrooms, well, 2, since I doubled it)
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Transfer to a greased 8 in square baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 20/25 minutes or until bubbly. If you are making it ahead, just mix it and put it in the fridge. Cook it right before you eat so it stays warm and moist!
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I also whipped up a batch of Double Decker Fudge, which I found in Taste of Home Magazine. I can't beleive I forgot to take a pic. It was totally easy and tasty--I caught Forrest sneaking some the next morning!
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Double Decker Fudge ( doubled this too)
1 tsp butter
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract, divided
1 cup (6oz) semisweet chocolate chips

Line an 8 in square pan with foil; butter foil and set aside (only do this if you want to take it out of the pan and serve it on a different dish-also I just sprayed my foil with Pam)
In a microwave safe bowl, combine peanut butter chips and 2/3 cup milk (I used a whole can when I doubled it). Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 15 second intervals, stirring until smooth. Stir in 1/2 tsp vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Refridgerate for 10 min.
Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and remaining milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 15 second intervals, stirring until smooth. Stir in remaining vanilla. Spread over peanut butter layer.
Refigerator for 1 hour or until firm. Using foil, remove fudge from pan. Cut into 1 inch squares.
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After my cooking extravaganza Forrest and I went to the Downtown Tavern to meet some of our high school friends that were in town for the holidays. It was really fun to see everyone again! We called it a night early because we had a busy day ahead of us on Thursday.
We started the day at my Uncle John and Aunt Sue McCord's house and celebrated with my dad's side of the family. This year our friends the Murrays and Joni Smith came too, since their families were going to be out of town. It made the day much more special, I thought!

The girls at Thanksgiving
After we had our fill, we went home to pack and then hopped in the car and drove to Selma, to spend time with Forrest's mom's family. We ate left overs and basically just chilled out all night--and let me tell you, that was a welcome change from our crazy weeks! All of Forrest's aunts and uncles on that side were there with their dogs so it was great fun! Ruffles was a little nervous of all of them, but it was really sweet to see them all play together!
The next morning, we were on the road again---this time, to Tuscaloosa for the AL v. AU game (no comment). Mom and I ate brunch at the AOII house, which Aunt Fran had decorated to the nines! I have never seen the house look so amazing! I know the girls will miss her when her interim housemother position ends in a few weeks!
The panda trees

Me and Randi getting our game faces on
 After the game we hung around for a while, catching up with friends and chowing down on pizza, before heading home. This trip took us 3 hrs (yes, 3), but we were really glad to be home and in our own beds by 10pm that night!
On Saturday we were up and at'em again. We were hosting a dinner party and we both had so much to do! I was anxious to get the Christmas decorations up and Forrest wanted the yard to be raked and clean before our friends came in so we were bustling around the house all day (well, except when Forrest went to play another round of football and I went to church). I LOVE my Christmas decorations----how could anyone NOT love Christmas decorations??? I don't have tons and tons of them, but I enjoy collecting them each year. I went to several sales the day after Christmas last year and I totally loaded up on stuff for this year that I was finally able to pull out of the basement!

I love these sparkly snowflakes!

Christmas ball and garland wreath--Forrest's mom made it for me!

My light up, sparkly presents! I will move these to the tree, when we get it!

Baby Christmas tree centerpieces. Forrest snagged these for me at Lowes for like 8 bucks!


"Tipsy" centerpiece

The pets' stockings--my favorite part!
Before I knew it, 6pm arrived and so did our guests! We invited our friends the Pucketts, the Gulases, Ellen and Nelson, and Jay and Claire. We had this same group over a year ago at the same time and I wanted to do it again since we would all be in town. The relationships in the group all over lap--all of the guys were Lambda Chis, 4 of us girls were AOII's, several of us went to high school together, and all but one of us is from Gadsden. Because we all went so far back, we had so many fun and different memories to talk about the whole night! Forrest and I thought people would need a change from Thanksgiving leftovers so he made his Enchiladas Especiales de Forrest.

Forrest's enchiladas
Baked Enchiladas (we tripled this!)
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion chopped
1 small can of chopped green chilies (drain liquid)
1 pkg (8oz) creem cheese (I use the 1/3 less fat kind)
3 1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
1 pkg of flour tortillas (8 inch)
2 (8oz) pkgs of shredded cheese (cheddar, Mexican, whatever)
1 can green or red enchilada cause (we usually double this, even when we don't double the recipe)
1 small can of sliced black olives to sprinkle on top (we double this every time too, but we love olives)

Melt butter in large pan over medium heat.
Add the chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes
Add green chiles. saute for 1 minute
Stir in cream cheese and chicken
Cook until the cream cheese melts, stirring constantly.
Spoon small amount of mixture into each tortilla and roll it up.
Place into a 13x9 greased baking dish.
Pour enchilada sauce over tortillas when all are in the pan.
Sprinkle with shredded cheese and olives
Bake 45 min at 350
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In keeping with the "Thanksgiving Fiesta" theme, Katie brought a 7 layer dip, Ellen brought Spanish Rice, Jay and Claire brought Sangria and other wines (including a CHOCOLATE dessert wine that was delish) and Lauren brought Margarita cake, brownies, and a pie! We had so much fun catching up, watching football, and SINGING!! While we were clearing the table, Jay went to check out our piano and started playing things by ear. Let me tell you--he is amazing! Now, I can play songs by ear, like, note by note, but Jay can play chords, both hands, and SING! Craziness! Once he got going, the whole group of us wound up sitting in the living room, drinking wine (ok, the guys had beer), and hollering out requests to Jay. I can honestly say it was one of the most fun nights we have ever had at our house! I hated for the night to come to an end!

Sing it Jay

Sonny was exhausted after such a busy weekend!

Ruffles was too!
The next day, we went to Birmingham to celebrate Thanksgiving with my mom's big fat Italian family. Yes, we have spaghetti on Thanksgiving there, but we have turkey and dressing too! I always love holidays there because there are so many people eating, yelling, laughing, and remembering! By the time we got home, we were totally wiped out! I camped out on the couch in front of the TV all night while Forrest started studying (boo for school--but please pray for him, because he has lots of tests coming up).  It is also his birthday this week, so we are in celebration mode still!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thursday Games = Crazy Weeks!

Alabama played on Thursday this week, which totally jacked up my schedule, but I am not going to complain! It was a great week and weekend, even if I was a little discombobulated! On Tuesday I had court in Sardis. Most of the ladies from the office came because we were going out to eat to celebrate Dad's birthday afterwards at our favorite after court restaurant, Garcias. Court in Sardis is always a hoot!! I can't really talk about it, so you will have to come and see for yourselves! We had a great time at dinner--even Forrest and Davis came to join the fiesta!!
After dinner I rushed back to town so I could make it to the Miss Merry Christmas pageant at Gadsden City High School. My friend Hannah was in the middle school pageant and my cousin Sara was in the high school pageant. I missed the middle school but made it right in time for the high school. Didn't the girls look lovely??

Sara looking pretty in pink

Hannah, all grown up!

Wednesday was Dad's actual Bday, so after work Forrest and I joined him and my mom at the Fish Market for dinner. Dinner was fabulous! I had some delicious pasta with shrimp, scallops, and artichoke hearts and Forrest had a craw fish dish . It was a nice treat and a fun way to be with Dad on his bday.
On Thursday I dressed myself for the game and headed off to work. Dad had to speak at a seminar in town at 1pm so we planned to leave immediately after he was done. We had a nice Courtyard lunch at the seminar and everyone really liked Dad's speech (I did all the research for it, thank you very much). Then we picked up mom and headed down to Ttown! We arrived about 4:30, met up with my sister, and headed to the Stadium Club for dinner. Forrest met us a little later in the stadium, after he got out of school. Bama was playing Georgia State, and it was their first year to have a football team. It was really exciting to see them play, especially since one of their quarterbacks was a transfer from Alabama and since their coach was the Bama coach in the late 80's. Bama obviously won the game, but it was a fun game because we got to see lots of the younger kids get to play. I also had fun watching a 3 year old boy who was sitting in front of us. It was his first game and during pregame he was SO excited--dancing around and singing and cheering. He lasted 47 seconds of the ball game before he fell asleep! So cute! After the game, I headed back home with Justin and Farrah and Forrest stayed at Mary Margaret's so he could go to sleep instead of sitting in traffic!
Lucky for me, I had court at 11am on Friday so I got to sleep in after a really late night. When I left to go to court I couldn't find Sonny--we let him out early to eat and play and then I put him in the fence when I leave for work. I figured he was playing with his doggie girl friend Libby and I didn't have time to track him down, so I just left and decided to come back at lunch and put him up. Well, when I got home, he still wasn't there! I looked and called and even drove around and walked the neighborhood screaming his name. No Sonny! I started to panic because he is SO friendly that anyone could have just picked him up and taken them. I called animal control and all the vets' offices but no one had seen him. I felt so helpless!! At about 2:30 Davis came to help me look (I had been sending him increasingly worried texts since Forrest wasn't home). Even my Aunt Sue and Uncle John were driving around looking for him! I had just started to recall the vets when Davis beeped in: he found him!!! Hooray! He had been 2 streets over sniffing around some one's yard. He hadn't been there before, because I drove there myself, as did Aunt Sue and Davis, so we have no idea where that rascal was! When he got home he jumped all over me and Davis and even Uncle John when he drove by. This leads me to believe that he was actually lost and not just wandering around having an adventure, but who knows. All I know is that I am so grateful that Davis found him AND that Sonny's free time in the yard privileges have been revoked until further notice! :) I really should do a post on how we came to have Sonny, as it really is a good story!
Once I finally calmed down, it was time to get ready for dinner. We had plans to eat at the Bright Star with Jonathan and Denise and Justin and Farrah. I rode down with the group and Forrest met us after school at the restaurant. I had eaten at Bright Star twice for lunch but never for dinner so I was really excited! When we got there we were escorted to our own private little room. I love nights out with this group because we always order appetizers, great entrees, and desserts! We make a real night of it! We started with crab claws, friend mushrooms, and crab and lobster au gratin. For dinner I had the most amazing stuffed shrimp I have ever tried and Forrest got the Texas Platter: a steak, Greek fish filet, and crab au gratin. By dessert we were stuffed but powered through so we could try the bread pudding, Baklava cheesecake, and lemon pie. I was so stuffed you could have rolled me to the car! We had such a fun time catching up, laughing, sharing bites of our dinners, and planning our next dinner outing!

Forrest was making us laugh when he was taking the pic
Saturday was totally weird--no football game! I slept late and stayed in bed even later, and Forrest even got back into bed after being up for a while to take a good long nap. I watched some of my shows in the DVR and even folded the laundry. It is amazing what you can do at home when you are not at a football game! At 1 I headed up the mountain to Carol's holiday AVON party. Carol is the bookkeeper at our office and also sells Avon. I was so excited to get to go to the party this year because she has great products AND great snacks! This was no exception! I stocked up on my favorite lotions and sampled all of her yummy appetizers! I had left my check book at home and she was so sweet to let me take my products home anyway and pay her back at work. (She signs my checks, so she knows I am good for it!) On the way home I stopped into the Peppermint Pony. They were having a holiday open house and I was hoping that they might have a stocking for Ruffles. After Christmas last year I got Sonny, Brownie, and Stella some adorable stockings at the Pony at their after Christmas sale. Of course I wanted one for Ruffles that matched but since I got the last ones at the clearance I just knew they wouldn't have them anymore. Thankfully I was wrong and now all the Bailey animals have matching stockings! (I am aware that an unmatched stocking is not a crisis situation, but my holiday decorating would have been totally thrown off!) After my shopping triumph I picked up Forrest and we met my mom and sister at Mass.
That night we went to our friend Matt's house for a cookout. I hadn't been there in so long so it was really fun to catch up with everyone. Justin and Farrah and Jay and Claire were there and so was my friend Rachel, who I haven't seen in forever. We all just sat around eating burgers and watching football games but it was a really fun night!
On Sunday we slept late again--what a novelty! I guess we did that a lot in the spring, but it is hard to remember our lives without football! We laid around, watched tv, took our time getting dressed and eating lunch. So nice! I had a marathon day at the grocery store trying to get everything I will need for Thanksgiving together so I don't have to go back during this week, when I'm sure it will be crazy! I got home just in time to pick Forrest up and head to the movies. We had plans with my mom, sister, Matt, his mom, and Davis to see the new Harry Potter movie. I haven't read the books but Forrest, my mom, and Davis and Matt's mom all have and they are totally into them. We have been making the same trip to see the movies together the last several times and we always have fun! I was treating Davis since he found Sonny, and he and Forrest acted like little kids again, ordering Coke slushies with cherry slush on the bottom. I was no better-I got a kids combo box with popcorn and candy! What a fun treat! The movie was really good and Forrest said it was pretty close to the book. Now I can't wait to see the final one this spring! After the movie our whole group went to my parents' house for dinner. Filets, baked potatoes, Caesar salad, garlic bread, and pumpkin cheesecake all made for a delicious meal!!!
Now that it is Monday, it is time to buckle down and get ready for another fun week: Thanksgiving, the Iron Bowl, and a dinner party! Happy Thanksgiving!

Blog Book Club

As promised, I wanted to let everyone know what my book club was reading this month so you could read along. Since the holidays are here, we decided on Christmas Jars by Jason Wright. It is a novella so it is very short and an easy read. I read it in about 3 nights before going to bed. It is a sweet story that had me in tears. It will really get you in the holiday spirit, and perhaps it will lead you to make your own Christmas Jar. Hope you enjoy! If you have any comments, feel free to leave them below!

Shutterfly

I just found out about this GREAT offer from Shutterfly! If you write a blog about their site, you can get 50 FREE 5 x 7 Holiday cards! How fabulous! I have used Shutterfly several times to print out pictures and their service is very easy, convenient, and user friendly! I can't wait to start making my cards! I checked out the card templates that they have and they are so cute! Check out the link below and happy blogging!!

http://blog.shutterfly.com/5358/holiday2010-blog-submission-form/

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gadsden Service Guild

Today I went to court with hot glue on my pants. WHY on Earth would I be using a hot glue gun before court? Well, I was getting my Gadsden Service Guild hours, of course. The Gadsden Service Guild is kind of like the Junior League, I guess. It is a group of all women and we each are assigned a place at which to volunteer. We also have several large service projects a year. On top of being a great way to serve the community, it is a great way to meet other women in town and to hang out and have fun! I was just invited to be a member of the Guild this year and my assigned service placement is Striplin Elementary. Lucky for me, my friend Megan's mom teaches the 1st grade there, so I was able to set up my service hours directly through her. I have been going 2 hours a month (4 this month because December is a crazy time at schools) and helping her with whatever she needs me to do. The first time, I helped some of the slower readers with their sight words and story for the week. The next time, I helped some students take a test and got to watch them as they did their "Buzzy Bee" activity. They were learning about pollination and they got to make bumble bees with pipe cleaner legs. Then, they took each bee and buzzed from "flower" to "flower" and dipped their legs in the "pollen" (yellow sand) so they could "pollinate" the flowers and as one child told me "collect pollen to take to the baby bees so they could eat". Pretty close, I figured.

Bulletin board Mrs. Weaver made with the kids' bees and flowers. They also took a video of the group reciting the poem.
Both times I have had a lot of fun and have been so impressed with all of the technology being used in the classroom. The students use computers to do math and reading drills and to take accelerated reader tests. They also have a projector that turns their white board into a touch screen! I was blown away! All we had in first grade was chalk and rubber cement!! (My 1st grade teacher was anti-paste). I also was enthralled while listening to Mrs. Weaver teaching them rules of grammar and how to read. Do you remember learning to read? It seems hard! All those rules about how the organization of the letters makes some letters say some sounds and other times they say a different sound? Yes I just re-read that and it sounded crazy but the message I am trying to get across is that I was very impressed!!!
Back to today and the hot glue. As I mentioned, I doubled up on my hours this month because of the craziness that is December in an elementary school. Mrs. Weaver is having surgery so she won't be back until January, so she really needed me today. To do what? Hot glue turkeys!! The students had traced their hands and colored them in to make "feathers" and then painted cups to make the turkey body. Mrs. Weaver hot glued a pom pom on the base of the cup to make a head, and it was my job to glue on all of the loose pieces. I was a little apprehensive at first--I have no idea when the last time I used a hot glue gun was--but then I figured that in the 1st grade your gluing skills don't exactly have to be top notch, so I went with it and had a blast! Again, I never do projects or crafts like this! I had so much fun helping the kids stick on the wiggly eyes and attach the feet to their project. They were so proud of themselves when their bird was ready to go!! I had a great time and I hope that I took some pressure off of Mrs. Weaver on her last day!
Just a few of the stellar turkeys I glued together. Didn't the kids do a great job??

Mississippi State Weekend

I woke up Friday morning feeling TERRIBLE! I some how had contracted the most awful cold, which made it difficult for me to sleep, so not only was I feeling puny I was also exhausted! Needless to say on Friday I was not much help at work. I told myself that I had to get over it before Saturday so I decided that the best way to handle the situation was to get over myself and ignore the cold, which is what I did. My parents dropped me off in Birmingham  on their way down to Tuscaloosa so I could meet Forrest for dinner. We had a coupon for Sekisui, a sushi restaurant in Vestavia, that we had purchased several months ago from Restaurant.com that we were saving for a special occasion. Since Friday was our "monthiversary" we decided it would be a great time to try it. The coupon was "spend $50, get $25 off" so we set off on the task of spending $50, which was actually kind of difficult. We ordered 2 kinds of sushi (crunchy shrimp and a Louisiana Roll, which had craw fish in it and was delish). Then we each ordered an entree. When our plates came out, we were shocked. The portions were huge!

My Tempura Box--enormous!

We enjoyed every bite and somehow were able to have room for dessert--tempura cheesecake with ice cream and mango sauce. We both really liked the restaurant and we liked the bill even more! We will definitely be going there again in the future!
On Saturday I was determined to be in full form for the football game. School is really heating up for Forrest now, so he decided it would be best if he stayed home and got some work done. Not only is he juggling his patients and classes, but he also has to prepare for 10 finals in 10 days in December! Please please pray for him! Since I was flying solo, Justin and Farrah graciously agreed to drive me to and from the game. They had made some pigs in a blanket WITH cheese to take to the house for tailgate food, and I may or may not have sampled a few on the way down! I was really excited about this weekend because my friend Deborah from Knoxville was coming down to go to the game with her sister. She stayed at Randi's house and then made their way over to MMM's to hang out and watch the AU game with me! It was of course so much fun to see 2 of my favorite college girlfriends. We went to the Quad to find a friend of Randi's and Deborah pointed out that it felt like we should still be in college together, and it is so true! We have all grown up so fast! Being back there together, on a game day, really did make me miss the old college life! After the Quad, we headed up to eat dinner in the Stadium Club. Since Forrest didn't make it to the game, Randi was able to use his ticket. We had a blast hanging out with Deb's sister Carla and her friend Amy (both AOII's) and watching the AU v. UGA game. The entire room was cheering for UGA in unison. It was a hoot!!

Mom and Dad met me in the club and we all went to our seats together. This adorable little lady was my date:
Obviously, Emily Ann did not bring Bella to the game

It of course was a great game, especially since we won by so much, but there was definitely a lack of excitement. After the loss to LSU, it is guaranteed that we won't make it to the SEC Championship Game and we probably won't go to a BCS bowl. Now, of course, a 10-2 team is not one to turn your nose up at, but still, after last year, it seemed that the whole stadium was a little bit let down. I hope everyone can get their enthusiasm back up for the last 2 games and the bowl game!
On Sunday I woke up feeling worse than I did on Saturday. I suppose sitting outside for 3 hours didn't do a thing for my cold! I went to church but afterwards I basically laid around watching tv all afternoon. I just wasn't motivated to do a single thing!! My sweet husband made my requested lunch of grilled cheese and chicken soup. I finally pried myself up to go to the store (when I ran out of things to watch) and to eat at Mom and Dad's. We had filets, green bean casserole, baked rice, and salad. YUM! Mom even had us fresh baked cookies and ice cream! A good meal made me feel a lot better. Hopefully I will shake this cold tomorrow and have a great week!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New (to us) Car

A few weeks ago I wrote about Forrest being involved in a car accident. That was 3 weeks and 2 days ago, to be exact. Luckily he was not hurt at all, but the Volvo was not so lucky. Even though it didn't look too terrible, the damage was going to be so expensive to repair that the insurance company decided to total the car. At that point, you can't really do anything. They gave us a VERY reasonable settlement so we set off on the task of finding a reliable replacement car to hold Forrest over until he gets out of school, at which point we can both get new rides! This was a much more difficult task than we thought--apparently used cars  are in high demand right now and are more expensive than they should be. We were kind of depressed about it, especially since we are trying our best to be good savers and we didn't want to spend a lot of money on a car that we would want to trade in just a few years. Also, it was really hard for us to have time to look at cars since we are in different cities all day long during the week and have been going out of town every weekend. Forrest was going to sacrifice going to the game this weekend so he could go to ATL and car shop. That was until we got the best opportunity last night!! Our family friends Harriet and Keith called us and said that they were ready to get rid of Keith's dad's car, who had passed away earlier in the year. It is a 2007 Honda Accord and they were willing to make us a great offer. How great? Well their asking price was EXACTLY the amount of money that the insurance company gave us. We hadn't told them the amount either--they just happened to make that offer. How blessed are we!!?? We went to look at it last night at about 10pm (can you tell how quickly we wanted the whole car business to be over with?) and it was perfect. It had everything we were looking for: LOW mileage, GREAT gas mileage, roomy back seat for transporting friends and/or dogs, EXCELLENT condition, and reliable brand that will make for a good resale or trade in amount in a few years. We definitely walked right into a deal that was perfect!!! Thank you Harriet and Keith for being such great friends!!

Sad about saying "goodbye" to the Volvo. It was such a great car!

Happy about the awesome new deal on the new car! We are now a Honda family, apparently.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NOLA

We have been looking forward to spending the weekend in New Orleans for seriously months. Justin and Farrah invited us to go with them ages ago and finally the weekend arrived! Forrest had several tests last week and I had a crazy work schedule so we were in definite need of a good vacation! Justin and Farrah picked me up at home and we drove to Birmingham to pick Forrest up at my grandparents' house. I got some good napping accomplished while on the way down and of course Farrah and I serenaded the guys with our incredible vocal styling. It felt so nice to actually sit still for more than a few minutes! We arrived in NOLA just in time to check into the Ritz which Justin had booked for us (he is the master and getting super cheap rates on super nice hotels), changing, and heading to dinner at Ralph's on the Park. It was a lovely little place outside of the French Quarter. We each had an appetizer, but Forrest's was the best--the tempura oyster mushrooms! You MUST try these if you go back! We love eating with Justin and Farrah because they are "sharers" and will always let you try what they order. We all ordered different things so we could sample more of the menu! I had a steak and Forrest had "reconstructed" fried chicken--both very yum!! We all caved and ordered a dessert as well. What a delightful dinner! While we were waiting on dessert, we noticed that there was a patron that looked surprisingly like Joe Namath. We spent a good amount of time wandering past his table and trying to figure out if it was in fact him, but alas, it wasn't. Nevertheless, we were all excited about our "almost" celebrity siting!

After dinner we went back to the hotel to change again so we would be ready for Bourbon Street. I hadn't been to New Orleans since February 07 on a Lambda Chi formal, and it was good to see that nothing had changed! :) The people watching was the best, as usual! We ran into our friends Brett and JT Bowtie before we ducked into Pat O'Brien's. Farrah and I split a Hurricane, which was a good thing, My, those things are stout!!

While we were sitting outside on the patio and gentleman came up to us and handed us his card. Apparently he represents "Indian Tribal Dancers" that can perform at your party, wedding, or corporate event. Who knew?? Chock it all up to Bourbon Street, I guess! After a quick stop for a Hand Grenade for the boys, we went back to the hotel WAY past our bedtime to rest and get "mentally" for the game the next day. However, on the way home, we saw The HOFF, right there on Bourbon! I only got a good look at the back of his head because there was such a crowd around him. Count that as 2 celebrities spotted in one day! (since we are including fake Joe Namath)
As much as I hate to admit it, I was not too excited about going to Baton Rouge on Saturday for the UA v. LSU game. Forrest and I went to BR two years ago and although we won, we felt like the atmosphere was a little hostile and intense. After surviving that experience, I felt like I could live my whole life without going through that again, but I agreed to go anyway, hoping for the best. We didn't have tickets so the first order of business was to find 4 reasonably priced tickets from some kind ticket vendor. We got stuck in traffic so Farrah and I hopped out of the car en route to campus to procure the tickets. It was kind of fun holding up 4 fingers and haggling with the ticket salesmen. We were determined NOT to pay over face value for the tickets, no matter how long we had to wait! We finally ran across a kind LSU fan selling a pair for face value, which we jumped on. When the boys met up with us, they were so impressed! The last 2 were pretty tricky, but right before kick off we managed to find another worn down LSU fan to sell us another pair at face value! Mission accomplished! Forrest and I were on row 2 and Farrah and Justin were right above us on row 13. I couldn't see squat but it was so much fun to be right at the field, even if we were surrounded by LSU fans. The Bama bench was in front of us so I got some good pics of the players.



We were leading most of the game when all of a sudden, the wheels came off and we couldn't get it back together! OH NO! After LSU scored the go-ahead touchdown, Forrest and I noticed our phones going CRAZY!!! Apparently, Forrest had clearly been on TV and just about everyone we knew saw it and was texting us! How funny! He is famous! We scurried out right before the game ended to avoid the rush of LSU people, since we were some of the only Bama people in our section. It was a long, sad, and quite ride down the interstate. We pulled over at our favorite road trip restaurant, Outback, to attempt to drown our sorrows in Sangria and cheese fries, to no avail. Then we thought that if we sang sad songs and changed the words to Bama references, we would feel better. Farrah and I gave it our best shot, but still, overwhelming gloom enveloped the car. Once we got back to the hotel, we were all so bummed we basically were just wallowing around in our sadness. Finally, I decided that we needed a bedtime snack, so we walked down to Cafe Du Monde. Nothing like sugar and carbs to ease the pain of a loss, right?

The people watching made us feel a little better, especially the guy walking around with a cat on his shoulder! The best part of this late night adventure was running into the 2 Bama fans that sat in front of us at the game, who informed me that one of the LSU cheerleaders stationed right in front of our seats had cussed at me while I was cheering! This sent me over the edge! I was in NO way obnoxious--I was just cheering for our boys! I would expect this from a drunk fan, but not a cheerleader in uniform on the field! Thank goodness I didn't realize that she did it while I was there! I guess now Forrest and I both have a funny store to tell from the game!
The next Sunday, when we awoke to see that the sun in fact was still shining, we walked down to St. Louis Cathedral for Mass.

 On the way, we saw Anderson Cooper from CNN shopping on Royal Street! We tried to get a picture with him but he was kind of rude. I guess I understand that, I mean, we were interrupting his Sunday morning off! That makes 2 celebs and 1 almost celeb for the weekend! After Mass in the spectacular church we got some lunch at Cafe Beignet. Forrest had a scrumptious Muffaletta and I had an omelet, and of course, we had to have another order of beignets.

Enjoying our lunch while a cat enjoys a nap near by
 It was our last stop before heading back to Alabama. Overall, we had a great time with great friends! I just wish the game had ended a little differently!

Miss Alabama USA

 One day this Fall my sister text me and asked me, out of the blue, if she should do the Miss Alabama USA pageant. I had told her years ago that she should do this pageant so of course I said yes. She had heard that they were having an informational meeting in Tuscaloosa about it so she figured "why not". She had done several school pageants but never any national or state wide pageants before so the process was new to her and to me and my mom as well. Still, we both encouraged her to do it, and now we are the proud family to the 3rd Runner up in the pageant!!!
The pageant was over the LSU weekend and I already had committed to going to the game, so I had to miss the preliminary night on Saturday. My mom, Aunt Fran, Mimi, Aunt Sue, and cousin Sara all went to support our girl and sent me texts updating me on how well she was doing. On Sunday, I got dropped off in Tuscaloosa on the way home from NOLA so that I could watch the final day of the pageant. I hoped she would make the Top 15 so that I could actually see her perform! My mom and I met my Mimi and Aunt Fran at the Bama Theater to cheer our girl on. Aunt Sue and Sara had made signs the night before so we brought those with us to help us support MMM. We were all SO nervous as we waited for the show to begin!


The show started with an opening number performed by all of the contestants. MMM looked so good and did a great job dancing.

They also had to introduce themselves to the audience and our cheering section went wild when she announced that she was "Mary Margaret McCord, Miss Gadsden USA!!!" We had so much fun being loud and crazy in support of her! After the introductions, they announced the Top 15. My whole body was shaking as they slowing read off the lucky girls' names. The 6th name called was "Mary Margaret McCord" and OMG we went nuts!! We were all screaming "Go Gadsden!!!"

Right after they called her name
Thank heavens they called her pretty early in the line up. If she had been one of the last names called I probably would have gotten sick right there in the theater! We sent out about 100 texts each notifying anxious friends at home that she had made it to the next round. What a relief, but then the nerves really began!!
The girls that made the top 15 had to model their swimsuits and evening gowns again. I don't know if you have seen my sister in a swimsuit but I knew that she had that event nailed down. She has got the best figure ever! See???

After modeling their suits, the girls went to change into their evening gowns. While they changed the other contestants were supposed to model their gowns. One girl clearly had a mad face on, I guess because she didn't advance, and she glared at the judges down the stage! Poor thing. The rest of the girls looked so pretty and I really enjoyed seeing all of the different gowns. Mary Margaret's gown was royal blue and very flowy. When she turned, she sort of twirled the fabric and it looked amazing! Simply stunning!

They had an escort to help them down the stairs
I knew she had done well, but so did all the girls. I really had no idea what to expect when it was time to announce the top 5. We were sitting on pins and needles when the MC announced that it was time. "Miss Yellow Hammer USA, Miss Tuscaloosa USA, MISS GADSDEN USA!!!!!!" I can't even describe the feeling that went through me when they called her name!

This shows how crazy I went when they called her name for top 5. I couldn't even hold the camera still!
I don't think I've even screamed that loud at a Bama game! My mom started sobbing and my Aunt and I continued to scream like animals--what fun! We were so excited because we knew that no matter what, she was getting a place in the pageant! Next it was time for the on-stage question. The questions seemed fairly easy to me but I was not standing on stage in front of the judges and audience. Mary Margaret's question was "what tv show or movie has impacted you in a profound way". I thought this was kind of a dumb question, I mean, has any tv show or movie really had a profound effect on 20 yr olds?? Maybe some of the Oscar winners, like Crash or Brokeback Mountain or any of them that deal with social issues? Mary Margaret had a really cute answer. She said that her favorite show was Grey's Anatomy and that she puts in the DVD when she studies, so it has really helped her through college. Off the cuff, I thought that was pretty great!

After the questions we had to sit and wait on the final tabulations, which seemed to take about 10 years. Finally, they started the awards ceremony: "4th Runner Up-Miss Yellow Hammer, 3rd Runner Up-Miss Gadsden, 2nd Runner Up, Miss Greystone, 1st Runner Up, Miss Vulcan, and winner, Miss Tuscaloosa!"

We were so excited for MMM! I mean, to go to this pageant for the first time with no coach or training, and to come out with 3rd Runner up, surely means she has some natural pageant abilities! We were all busting at the seems to get to see her afterwards--poor thing she was so hot and exhausted and happy!


Everyone told her how incredible she was and everyone we spoke to encouraged her to try it again! She even got interviewed by the Crimson White

Getting her interview on
I am such a proud sister and can't wait to see what she does next!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Howl-O-Ween

Hooray for an "off" football weekend! I had this vision of cleaning and getting stuff done around the house with all the time I would have. Well, that didn't happen, but we did have fun! It all started on Thursday night when Forrest and I decided to see a movie. My mom had given us a coupon for free movies and it expires on Halloween so we wanted to put it to good use. The problem was, we couldn't find a movie that would accept the pass and that we both wanted to see. Instead, we compromised and Forrest and his brother Davis went to see Jackass and I went to see Secretariat by myself. Yes, that does in fact make me a little lame but there were only 4 other people in the theater and I knew 2 of them so I didn't feel too uncomfortable. We both enjoyed our movies so the whole scheme worked for us!
On Friday night Forrest had to be on call at the hospital in Birmingham for his oral surgery rotation. Since he wasn't going to be home, I went with my aunt and uncle to the Gadsden Titans game to see my cousin Sara dance with the danceline. The Titan band is quite large and they always do amazing field shows--this year was no exception! The show was "MoTown", complete with a Tina Turner and mini Michael Jackson! I had a great time even though it was freezing! When I got home my brother came over for a quick visit before I decided to call it a night. Luckily, Forrest got home about 1 so it wasn't too terribly late!

My little Sara is all grown up!
 I was SO excited to get up on Saturday because I was taking Ruffles to be in the Humane Society Howl-O-Weenie parade! I dressed her in her hot dog costume and added a hounds tooth bow, so she was a Gameday dog! I wore my hounds tooth coat so we matched. Denise and her dog Pacino the shark were also going to be in the parade so we rode together. It was so much fun to see all of the precious pups dressed in their Halloween outfits! Ruffles was nervous about all of the dogs at first but when they gave her a treat bag she was ready to show off! Forrest came as the parade started and brought Sonny to support his sister. He had a great time checking out all of the other dogs and even was given some tennis balls to play with. Neither Ruff nor Pacino won a prize, but they had so much fun and were happy to support the Humane Society!
Ruffles getting ready for her big debut

Petey, aka Uncle Sam, the Grand Prize winner

This mail man cracked me up!

Bindi, the 2nd place winner

I LOVED this outfit too! He won either 3rd or 4th place

Ruff and Pacino

Shannon and her little shark, Moose
Ruffles had her picture taken and it was on the Gadsden Times website! She is a star!

That afternoon Forrest and I took Sonny on a hike through the woods. WHEW I was out of shape! When we were done I was totally exhausted, but I was glad I went. The weather was perfect and the fall leaves made the trip so beautiful! Sonny of course had a great time, as he has endless energy! After the hike it was time for Mass. I LOVE being able to go to Mass on Saturdays because it means that I get to sleep late on Sundays! After church we went to my parents' house to watch the AU v. Ole Miss game with the fam, since my brother and sister were both in town. Davis and Justin and Farrah came as well, so we basically ended up having a little party! We had a great time watching several games and once and not having to be nervous for our own team!!
On Sunday I got too sleep late---hooray!! Forrest, however, got up at the crack of dawn to go to the race in Talladega with Justin. It was his first time to go and he was SO excited! He literally has been counting down the days! He went in full "Dega" attire and I am a little sad that I don't have a pic of that. I know he had a great time! Thanks Justin! Since our guys were going to the race, Farrah and I decided to have a girls' day of our own! First, I met her at Justin's house to formally meet their new niece, Jameson, who was adopted from China. She is totally precious and the happiest little baby I know! I brought her a pair of pj's with a kitty cat in a scarf and ski boots on it (so cute) as well as some cute socks with ribbons! Baby girl stuff is so cute, I could have bought her hundreds of things!!
Miss Priss herself!!
Jameson in the pj's I gave her!

After playing with Jameson we went to the movies (on my last BOGO coupon) to see Life as We Know It. It was totally girly and sappy, so it made for a perfect girls' day! One of my favorite things about seeing girly movies is that the previews are always for more girly movies! Farrah and I now have a list of new movies to tackle the next time! A grocery run and dinner at my parents' with my brother and sister rounded out a great weekend. Hope you all have a wonderful week!
 
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